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Urban water: Podcast from Blakely Radio

By Edward Blakely - posted Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Ten Culprits Of The Global Water Crisis

Lora Kolodny


Some 1.8 billion people have internet access in the world today, but 1 billion people lack access to adequate amounts of freshwater. The issues around water in 2010 concern scarcity, access, pollution and more.

But it’s not all grim. There are new opportunities for tech startups, engineers, investors and creative people to solve problems around the water crisis. Water and waste water technology is a hot market that could get hotter.

A few others that were funded this year include: two water filtration companies Clean Filtration Technology and Quench; and an antimicrobial tech company, HaloSource which treats recreational and industrial water and aims to make drinking water safe.

We expect to see more startups and deals around water-related subcategories of cleantech, given the startling facts about global water supply and demand that are revealed in a comprehensive new Living Planet report by the WWF and Global Footprint.

1. Of the world’s total estimated 6.5 billion population some 28% has internet access today, while 15% of the population doesn’t have enough freshwater to live a healthy life.

2. Seventy-one countries are experiencing stress on blue water resources, defined as sources of water that people withdraw, use and don’t return to the ecosystem. Nearly two-thirds (or 45) of these countries are experiencing moderate to severe stress.


3. Countries experiencing blue water resource stress today are major producers of agricultural goods for national and global markets, including: India, China, Israel and Morocco. The strain on water resources will become more acute with increased human populations and economic growth, and be further exacerbated by the effects [of military conflict] and climate change. It will also make everything from energy to food more expensive.

4. Since 1900, more than half of the world’s wetlands have disappeared.

5. Overall, about one-third of the world’s 105 largest cities obtain a significant proportion of their drinking water directly from protected areas.

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About the Author

Edward J. Blakely is Honorary Professor of Urban Policy at the United States Studies Centre, Sydney University. Professor Blakely is an international expert on urban planning and development and most recently head of recovery in New Orleans. He also served as the Chair of the Sydney Metropolitan Plan Reference Panel 2003-2004. He can be heard on the radio Sunday nights at 8PM on internet radio Blakely City Talk broadcasts the same podcast anytime.

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